By Abby Weingarten
Who votes? Novos do. And they do it with award-winning zeal.
Now, with the Sarasota and Manatee County primaries approaching on August 18 in preparation for the November presidential election, the New College staff is making it even easier for students to get their heads in the political game—by partnering with TurboVote.
“This will be a critical election this year, and we want to ensure students know their options when it comes to voting,” said Jada McNeill, the assistant director of New College’s office of Student Activities & Campus Engagement (SA[u]CE). “Voting in local and national elections is a way to use your voice on issues that influence our government. We’re making the process easier and accessible for students throughout their college experience.”
TurboVote is an online tool that makes the voting experience more navigable, by offering registration resources, deadline reminders and information for securing absentee ballots. But New College students have regularly gone out of their way to participate in the voting process regardless of ease.
Two years ago, New College received national accolades from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for its high level of student voting during the 2018 election (nearly two-thirds of students voted). New College earned a platinum seal from ALL IN for achieving a student voting rate above 50 percent; and three Best in Class Awards for the highest voting rate among all participating small, public, four-year institutions.
“It’s important for students to vote, especially in this upcoming election, because most traditional college students fall within the Millennial or Gen Z age population,” McNeill said. “These two age groups will be the largest share of eligible voters in 2020, which means those votes can really make a strong impact on our democracy.”
The TurboVote platform is free and available not only to students but to staff and faculty as well (in English or Spanish). Once participants sign up, a completed voter registration form will arrive via snail mail to be signed and mailed back. If necessary, a completed absentee ballot request form will follow. All forms are sent with pre-addressed and pre-stamped envelopes.
McNeill wants to encourage every New College student to take advantage of TurboVote, and to potentially consider volunteering at the polls on election day. Due to the pandemic, many states have decreased the number of polling locations (and because many previous poll workers are elderly, they are staying home). So students have the opportunity to stay civically engaged by lending a much-needed hand.
“As an institution that empowers the intellectually curious, we want to empower and motivate students to establish civic habits, such as voting, that last beyond the collegiate experience,” McNeill said. “Incorporating democratic engagement in campus life helps students explore their political beliefs and values, and fosters the individual’s effective relationship with society.”
For more details, visit New College’s Voting Information Center at ncf.edu/campus-life/voting-information-center
For questions or concerns, contact the SA[u]CE office at firstname.lastname@example.org
Abby Weingarten is the writer/editor in the Office of Communications & Marketing.